Fantasy Files: Now or Later?

In my youth, if we got a buck and went to the corner store, we could purchase about 50 tiny candies, some of which were called the Now and Later. Let’s admit it; candy from my youth wasn’t about flavor, it was the most efficient sugar delivery system. I’m going to write about the phenomenon of trading a “now” player for a “later” player.

These are real trades in my real dynasty league. My first such example is from 2006. I felt that I was “one player away” from competing for a title. I targeted Tiki Barber, who had an amazing late-career run. He clearly stated that 2006 would be his final NFL season, so I knew I was trading for a one-year guy. I gave away the 1.04 pick for Barber. Barber finished 2006 as RB8, the 16th highest scoring player in all of the land. The 1.04 was Joseph Addai, who finished as RB13.

While Addai never had a single season as good as Barber’s last, he was only 12 points off Barber’s 2006 pace in 2007. Addai played six years in the NFL and had three top-12 RB finishes. I’d say the “later” won that deal, and yeah, I didn’t hit that championship window.

In 2008, another such trade led to the doom and “undoom” of two franchises. We had one franchise with a young WR who had a typical WR rookie year, barely finishing as a WR3. The other franchise had a rookie running back who finished as a mid RB2 and had a starting job locked up on a good offense. The trade was Calvin Johnson for Ryan Grant. This isn’t exactly a “now for later” deal, although Grant was a 25-year-old rookie (RotoViz would have cyber-fainted). Grant had three startable years, and yeah, I don’t have to break down the stats on this one.

Which leads us to the deal that I consummated over the weekend. I was ready to sell high on Matt Forte. I drafted him with the fifth pick of our 2008 draft, and in six NFL seasons (with a spooky 6666 career rushing yards) he never finished out of the RB2 running. Last year’s top-five RB finish gave me the narrow window to unload him. I asked a few dynasty experts about the approximate value of Forte against this year’s rookie class. The 1.01 or 1.02 picks were considered similar “value”, and I hoped for some kind of kicker to sweeten the deal. The 1.01 guy didn’t respond to my trade offer. The 1.02 guy was my dad.

I have a glorious, or “inglorious” history with my dad. I invited him into my dynasty league and he made it to the title game in year one. I invited him into my local keeper league in part because he could give my drunken ass a ride home after the draft, and he’s won two titles since whereas I’ve won two fewer. We’ve not been much for trading in that time. I offered him Matt Forte for 1.02+. He countered with Forte for 1.02-. I made one slight adjustment and he accepted the third offer, which was a little less than Matt Forte for 1.02. Here’s the full trade:

Me: 1.02, 2.02, 3.02
Dad: Forte, 1.09, 3.09

He wanted to trade up into the late-middle of the first round, and I’m feeling that this rookie class is going to have a giant mass of similar players from 1.03 until the middle of the third round. I thought of moving up from 3.09 to 3.02 to get one of the final players in that grouping early in the negotiations and that was the final bit to get the deal completed. Forte is better than Grant and Addai. He might have another RB1 year in him, if not two, in the near future. My official football pedantrist, Rich Hribar, mentioned an $8 million+ salary cap number for Forte in 2015, which may lead to his CJ-esque release next offseason. Speaking of that, whoever the Bears draft at RB to back up Forte could be a sleeper.

The main downside in this now for later deal is I have to pick a guy. It’s not all bad, as I’m going to get either Sammy Watkins or Mike Evans and I don’t care what Davis Mattek says, I think either will be a quality WR, maybe that WR1 of my dreams, by the time Forte hangs up the cleats.

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